Jan 5, 2009

The world's top 25 soccer clubs, Jan. 5, 2009

Happy New Year! We're back and better than ever. Not all leagues played over the last fortnight but enough did to allow us to put together another edition of the always-popular Top 25! Read on to see how things transpired:

1 (1). FC Barcelona
A strong finish earned Barca a 3-1 victory over Mallorca Saturday, their only game in the last fortnight. The new year starts off the way the last one ended, then. Will Barca maintain the torrid pace they have established? History shows that it will be difficult. But history also gets rewritten.
Next Up: Face Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey tomorrow and Osasuna in Liga action Sunday. Both games are on the road.
Against Top 25 (when they were Top 25): Beat Atletico Madrid at home (6-1, Oct. 4), beat Sporting Lisbon at home (3-1, Sept. 16), beat Sporting Lisbon away (5-2, Nov. 26), beat Sevilla away (3-0, Nov. 29), beat Valencia at home (4-0, Dec. 6), beat Real Madrid at home (2-0, Dec. 13), won at Villareal (2-1, Dec. 21).

2 (4). Liverpool
Reds went three-for-three since we last met, beating (in chronological order) Bolton on Boxing Day, Newcastle United and Preston North End in the FA Cup. Obviously none of these teams can be considered quality competition. But three wins are more than Chelsea were able to pull off over the same time period (foreshadow, foreshadow, foreshadow...). Reds take a leap in the standings thanks to the Italian clubs not playing at all.
Next Up: Visit Stoke City, Saturday.
Against Top 25: Beat Manchester United (2-1, Sept. 13), beat Olympique Marseille on the road (2-1, Sept. 16), tied Atletico Madrid (1-1 at Madrid, Oct. 22 and 1-1 at Anfield, Nov. 6), won at Chelsea (1-0, Oct. 26), tied at Arsenal (1-1, Dec. 21).

3 (5). Manchester United
Fresh off their Club World Cup title, Sir Alex' men turned in a trio of solid if unspectacular Premiership wins, over Stoke City on Boxing Day, Middlesbrough on Dec. 29 and Southampton in the FA Cup yesterday. They also signed a pair of Serb players, apparently before the local red army team could get their hands on them (or something). Count Man U. out at your own peril, folks. The fact is they still have two games in hand over the rest of the Premiership. They're going to need to improve their record against quality competition however (see below). They get their first chance this weekend.
Next Up: Visit Derby (it's pronounced "Dar-bee") for a League Cup tie Wednesday then host Chelsea in the game of the week, Sunday.
Against Top 25: Lost to Zenit St. Petersburg (2-1), lost at Liverpool (2-1, Sept. 13), tied Villareal at home (0-0, Sept. 17) and away (0-0, Nov. 25), tied at Chelsea (1-1, Sept. 21), beat Celtic at home (3-0, Oct. 22) and tied at Celtic Park (1-1, Nov. 6), lost at Arsenal (2-1, Nov. 8).

4 (2). Inter Milan
Next Up: Host Cagliari (it's pronounced "Caliari". The "g" is silent) when Serie A returns to action on Saturday. Face Genoa in the Coppa Italia the following Tuesday, also at home.
Against Top 25: Lost to AC Milan (1-0, Sept. 28), won at Panathinaikos (2-0, Sept. 16), tied at Fiorentina (0-0, Oct. 29), beat Udinese (1-0, Nov. 9), beat Juventus (1-0, Nov. 22) .

5 (3). Juventus
Next Up: Host Siena, Sunday.
Against Top 25: Beat Zenit St. Petersburg at home (1-0, Sept. 17) and tied on the road (0-0, Nov. 25), tied at Fiorentina (1-1, Aug. 31), tied at BATE Borisov (2-2, Sept. 30), beat Real Madrid (2-1 at home, Oct. 22 and 2-0 at the Bernabeu, Nov. 5), lost at Inter Milan (1-0, Nov. 22), beat AC Milan at home (4-2, Dec. 14)

6 (6). Bayern Munich
Idle last week.
Next Up: Nothing until Jan. 27, when they face Stuttgart for a cup tie. A big game at Hamburg takes place later that same week.
Against Top 25: Tied Olympique Lyon at home (1-1, Sept. 30), won at Steaua Bucharest (1-0, Sept. 17), beat Fiorentina at home (3-0, Oct. 22), tied at Fiorentina (1-1, Nov. 6), beat Hoffenheim (2-1, Dec. 5), beat Olympique Lyon on the road (3-2, Dec. 10).

7 (10). Real Madrid
Juande Ramos' team booked a quality victory yesterday, defeating Villareal 1-0. They move into third place with the win, albeit still a dozen points behind first-placed Barca. With the teams ahead of them either idle or losing, Real take a three spot leap in the Top 25.
Next Up: Visit Mallorca, Sunday.
Against Top 25: Beat Zenit St. Petersburg twice (2-1 on the road, Sept. 30 and 3-0 at home, Dec. 9), beat Atletico Madrid (2-1, Oct. 18), lost to Juventus (2-1 on the road, Oct. 22 and 2-0 at home, Nov. 5), lost at Barca (2-0, Dec. 14), beat Valencia at home (1-0, Dec. 20), beat Villareal at home (1-0, Jan. 4).

8. (7). Chelsea
Four games, one victory. That is Chelsea's tally since we met last, on Dec. 22. The first of these games, a scoreless draw at Everton, was an almost forgivable offense. The ensuing 2-2 draw at Fulham less so. Saturday's 1-1 F.A. Cup tie at Southend United? Pretty pathetic. Let's not forget that Blues' lone victory in this time came against last-placed West Bromwich Albion. And yet, Luiz Scolari's gang are still second in the Prem. If they keep playing like this that will never last.
Next Up: Visit Old Trafford, Sunday.
Against Top 25 clubs: Tied Man U at home (1-1, Sept. 21), lost to Liverpool (1-0, Oct. 25), lost to Arsenal at home (2-1, Nov. 30).

9. (8) AC Milan
Next Up: Two telling games. Visit AS Roma Sunday. Then host fourth-placed Fiorentina, a week on.
Against Top 25: Beat Inter Milan (1-0, Sept. 28), beat Lazio (4-1, Sept. 21), lost at Juventus (4-2, Dec. 14).

10 (11). Arsenal
Arsene's men played much better against Pompey than they did against Villa on Boxing Day and were rewarded with a 1-0 victory. They also beat the Plymouth Argyle Socks in their FA Cup tie. Arse are in a heap of trouble though, with their best player (that would be Cesc Fabregas) out for four months and form that has been extremely inconsistent.
Next Up: Host Bolton, Sunday.
Against Top 25: Tied Dynamo Kiev away (1-1, Sept. 17) won at home (1-0, Nov. 25), beat Man United at home (2-1, Nov. 8), beat Chelsea away (2-1, Nov. 30), tied Liverpool at home (1-1, Dec. 21).

11 (9). Atletico Madrid
The rojiblancos lost at Valencia yesterday, 3-1 to drop to fifth in La Liga and potentially out of the title race. A disappointing showing for Javier Aguirre's men, who may need to stake their marbles on continental glory. Because they face the best team in the world in their country's cup...
Next Up: That team, Barca visit tomorrow for the first leg of a Copa del Rey tie (the return leg is a week from Wednesday. Not that it will matter, especially seeing how Atletico did the last time they played Barca). Atletic Bilbao visit Sunday in league action.
Against Top 25: Lost at Barcelona (6-1, Oct. 4), lost to Real Madrid (2-1, Oct. 18), tied Liverpool (1-1, Oct. 23), tied Villareal (4-4, Oct. 26), tied at Liverpool (1-1, Nov. 5).

12 (14). Aston Villa
Martin O'Neill's men flat outplayed Arsenal on Boxing Day, but only had the solitary point to show for it (and it almost didn't come to that either). They followed this up with the obligatory victory at Hull and a late victory over Gillingham in the FA Cup. We'll see how long they manage to hold on to this lofty perch.
Next Up: Host West Brom, Sunday.
Against Top 25: Tied Liverpool at home (0-0, Aug. 31), lost at Chelsea (2-0, Oct. 5), beat Arsenal away (2-0, Nov. 15) tied Man United at home (0-0, Nov. 22)

13 (12). AS Roma
Next Up: Host AC Milan when Serie A returns to action on Sunday.
Against Top 25: Lost at home to Inter (4-0, Oct. 19), lost at Chelsea (1-0, Oct. 22), lost at Udinese (3-1, Oct. 26), lost at Juventus (2-0, Nov. 1), beat Chelsea (3-1, Nov. 4), beat Fiorentina (1-0, Nov. 29).

14 (13). Villareal
The yellow submarine lost at Real Madrid. We have been telling them to play Jozy Altidore for some time. They don't listen. So let them lose games. We'll only dock them one spot for the loss at Bernabeu though. Even though they are now seventh in Spain.
Next Up: Things don't get any easier with a trip to Valencia on the docket Saturday.
Against Top 25: Tied Man U twice (0-0 at Old Trafford, Sept. 18 and 0-0 at home Nov. 25), beat Celtic at home (1-0, Sept. 29), tied Atletico Madrid at home (4-4, Oct. 26), lost at Sevilla (1-0, Dec. 14), lost to Barcelona at home (2-1, Dec. 21), lost at Real Madrid (1-0, Jan. 4).

15 (15). Panathinaikos
Played AEK Athens to a scoreless tie yesterday.
Next Up: Two games against what we assume is the same team (Panthrakikos? Did we spell that right? If not, who really cares. What did the Greeks ever contribute to Western civilization anyway?), the first a league encounter Saturday, the second a cup tie a week from Wednesday.
Against Top 25: Lost to Inter Milan at home (2-0, Sept. 16), beat Inter Milan (1-0 away on Nov. 25)

16 (16). Olympique Lyon
Had their only scheduled game, a Coupe de France tie, canceled.
Next Up: Host Lorient when Ligue Un returns to action Saturday.
Against Top 25: Tied Fiorentina at home (2-2, Sept. 17) and Bayern Munich on the road (1-1, Sept. 30), won at Fiorentina (2-1, Nov. 25), lost to Bayern at home (3-2, Dec. 10).

17 (17). Sporting Lisbon
Won at Vitoria Setubal Saturday. Setubal sit only 14th of 16 teams but Sporting are now third in Liga Sagres, tied with second-placed Benfica on points and only one digit behind first-placed Porto.
Next Up: Host Maritimo Funchal Saturday.
Against Top 25: Lost to Barcelona (3-1 away, Sept. 19 and 5-2 home, Nov. 25).

18 (18). FC Sao Paulo
The Brazilian champs (third year in a row) were idle last week and will remain so for the forseeable future.
Next Up: When does Libertadores start, anybody know? Whenever it does, Sao Paulo will be in a group with Uruguay's Defensor Sporting and two qualifiers (one or both from Colombia).

19 (22). Boca Juniors
Boca lost their final game against Tigre but still managed to win the three-team playoff to decide the Apertura championships. For this, they move into the Top 20.
Next Up: Whenever the Copa Libertadores starts, it looks like Boca will be in a group with Paraguay's Libertad, Peru's Universidad (a college team that somehow qualified for this competition, it appears) and Mexico's San Luis.
Against Top 25: Beat San Lorenzo (3-1, Dec. 20).

20 (19). Standard Liege
Next Up: Nothing until Jan. 17, when the Jupiler league returns to action. They're drawn with Sporting Braga in the next stage (round of 32) in the UEFA Cup. We expect them too win, of course.
Against Top 25: Lost to Liverpool in Champions League qualifiers (1-0 in aggregate on an overtime goal in the second leg), beat Sevilla at home (2-0, Nov. 6).

21 (20). Fiorentina
Next Up: Host Lecce, Sunday. Then a tough pair of road games, at AC Milan (Jan. 17) and Juventus (Jan. 25).
Against Top 25: Tied Steaua Bucharest at home (0-0, Sept. 30), lost at Lazio (3-0, Sept. 24), tied at Lyon (2-2, Sept. 17) and lost to Lyon at home (2-1, Nov. 25), tied Juventus at home (1-1, Aug. 31), lost at Bayern Munich (3-0, Oct. 22), tied Bayern at home (1-1, Nov. 6), lost at AS Roma (1-0, Nov. 29).

22 (21). Internacional
The Porto Allegre side beat Estudiantes 2-1 over two legs to take the Copa Sudamericana earlier this month. That will assure them a spot in the Top 25 for a little while (see Arsenal de Sarandi from last year, specifically here and here).
Against Top 25: Beat Boca Juniors and Chivas de Guadelajara over two legs in the Copa Sudamericana quarter- and semi-finals respectively.

23 (-). Valencia
Valencia return to the Top 25 after the briefest of absences, replacing fellow Spanish club Sevilla (who tied Osasuna at home and was promptly yanked from this very spot). They accomplished this feat by beating Atletico Madrid at home. A victory that moves them into second place in La Liga.
Next Up: Visit Racing Santander in the first leg of their Copa del Rey tie on Wednesday, then host Villareal Saturday. Win both and they prove they belong here.
Against Top 25: Lost to Real Madrid over two legs in Spanish Supercup, tied at Sevilla (0-0, Nov. 22), lost at Barcelona (4-0, Dec. 6), beat Atletico Madrid (3-1, Jan. 4).

24 (24). Deportivo Toluca
The newly-crowned Mexican Apertura champions played Morelia to a 1-1 tie in the opening match of the Interliga tournament (see last week's rant for more information about Interliga).
Next Up: Face Pachuca in their second Interliga group game tonight, followed by their third and last group stage match with Tecos. The top two teams in each group advance. If Toluca are not among them we will in all likelihood drop them from the Top 25.

25 (25). Hoffenheim
Idle last week.
Next Up: Face Cottbus when the Bundesliga returns, Jan. 31.
Against Top 25: Beat Hamburg SV at home (3-0, Oct. 26), lost at Bayern Munich (2-1, Dec. 5).

Dropping Out:
Sevilla (23).


  1. Wow these teams are really cool. Are any clubs from the mexican league are going to be in this section??

  2. you mean like Deportivo Toluca, who are 24th this week?

    A Mexican club makes it virtually every week because one club from UEFA, CONCACAF and CONMEBOL must be in the list each week according to the Top 25 bylaws. And as I'm sure you know the Mexican league is (to put it mildly) head and shoulders above the other domestic leagues in CONCACAF.

  3. Hi, first time I've taken a glance at your site/posts.
    On what do you base your rankings on?

  4. wins and losses, mate! With wins against "quality competition" counting more, of course.